Australian Beef Production - An Overview

There are 43,763 farms in Australia producing beef cattle, with a national herd of 26.6 million head, according to the Naitonal Farmers' Federation Australia. These farms produce 2.1 million tonnes of beef and veal each year.
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Queensland is by far the largest cattle producing state, with double the amount of cattle than New South Wales, the state with the second largest cattle inventory.

In 2010-11 alone, Australia’s farm exports earned the country $32.5 billion, up $400 million in two years. And the gross value of Australian farm production at farm gate in 2009-10 was $48.7 billion – up a massive $600 million in just one year.

Of this, beef and veal production contributed to 17 per cent of total Australian farm exports.

The beef industry accounts for 50 per cent of all farms with agricultural activity.

Between 2010 and 2015 adult cattle processing is forecast to rise 13 per cent to 9.5 million. Production is projected to reach 2.4 million tonnes by 2015.

Assuming better returns (largely from export beef markets) and average seasonal conditions, the Australian cattle herd is expected to increase to 29.7 million head by 2015, 11.9 per cent higher than the recent low point in 2010.

The gross value of Australian cattle and calf production in 2009-10 was $7.27 billion.


Australians eat an average 33kg of beef and veal per person, per year. This has remained relatively constant for the last 15 years.

Historically, beef and veal consumption peaked at 70kg per person in 1976-77 – coinciding with record production level and low prices.

Total consumption of beef in Australia is projected to rise four per cent over the next five years.

Over the last recorded 12 months, Australians spent $6.7 billion on beef. In terms of volume, beef is the second most popular fresh meat consumed through the food service industry after chicken.

The consumption of beef accounts for 24.7 per cent of world meat consumption.

Australia exported 937,301 tonnes of beef and veal in 2010-11, worth $4.5 billion. The major export markets for beef and veal are Japan (37 per cent), the United States (17 per cent) and Korea (15 per cent).

Australian live cattle exports are worth $660 million in 2010-11 – predominantly exported to Indonesia (57 per cent), Turkey (13 per cent) and Israel (seven per cent).

Australia is a small producer of beef, but is the second largest beef exporter behind Brazil.

March 2012

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